The Modesto driver who crashed into an irrigation pump station Monday with his car falling nose first into a huge drain filled with several feet of water may have dozed off behind the wheel, his family said.
"As far as we can tell, he was just overtired and we think he may have dozed off for a second," said Diane Brady, one of the man's daughters. "But he's not real sure."
Brady said her father, Ron, has a broken left ankle, broken right rib and one of his vertebrae is fractured, along with a black eye and bumps and bruises.
Police had no new information about the crash Tuesday. It appeared alcohol was not a factor in the crash, Lt. Chris Fuzie said.
Brady said her father is in stable condition at Memorial Medical Center and should be released from the hospital in about a week.
Ron Brady, 70, was driving a 1997 Chevrolet Lumina west on Briggsmore in the left lane as he approached Rose Avenue about 3:14 p.m., police said.
The car left the road and entered the dirt median. It hit a dip and was airborne as it crossed Rose, before landing and then crashing through a chain-link fence for the Modesto Irrigation District pump station in the Briggs- more median.
Officials said the car traveled across 30 to 40 feet of metal grates above the drain until the final section collapsed and the car plunged nose first into the drain, nearly disappearing from view.
The car was vertical and resting against one of the drain's walls. Brady was suspended by his seat belt for 25 minutes until firefighters rescued him. His car was filled with water that came within about a foot of his nose, authorities said.
"He's very grateful there was not more water in there," Diane Brady said, adding that her father appreciates the efforts of the firefighters and other workers who freed him.
Diane Brady said her father was coming home from a fishing trip. She believed he had been fishing at New Melones Reservoir near Sonora.
The pump station transfers storm water and agricultural runoff from underground pipes to the nearby MID canal.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.